Civil Services Exam (also called as IAS exam because of popularity for IAS among other services) is conducted by UPSC every year for recruiting about 800/900 brilliant officers in the top-rung civil services of the Govt of India: IAS, IFS, IPS and IRS among others. It is said to be one of the most competitive exam not only in India, but in the entire world because of the sheer number of candidates who applies/appears for this exam compared to the number of posts for which this exam is held – approximately only two in each thousand who applies gets the job – the acceptance/success rate in Civil Services Exam is as low as 0.18%!
But is Indian Civil Services Exam that competitive?
How many candidates applies for this exam and are eliminated (i.e. screened) at various stages – Prelims/Mains/Interview in Civil Services Exam? This is the subject matter of this blog article. I did an analysis of authentic data from the Annual reports of UPSC for the Civil Services Exam
conducted for most recent five exams – from CS-2006 to CS-2010 (data for CS-2011 would be incorporated in the 62nd Annual report of UPSC, which has not been published so far).
And the results were astounding:
1.0) Approx. 50% of those who applies, ACTUALLY never appears in Civil Services Prelims Exam.
2.0) Only 5% of those who appeared in Prelims, qualifies and appears in Mains.
3.0) 20% of those who appeared in Mains, qualifies and appears in Interview
4.0) 40% of those who appears in Interview qualify.
So, as you see above - among the various stages, CS Prelims is the toughest to qualify and once if you cross this hurdle, your chances of getting that coveted Civil Services job improves progressively – 1 out of each 5 who appears in Civil Services (Mains) exam, qualifies for Interview. And once if you reach the Interview stage – you are almost sure: 2 out of each 5 who appears Civil Services Interview are selected for the final merit list.
But the main hurdle in succeeding Indian Civil Services exam is: “APPEARING” in CS-Prelims after “APPLYING” for the same. Following numbers of candidate confirms this.
Application stage Screening: Self elimination
Lure of Indian Civil Services job is too great – almost every graduate, at least once in their lifetime, is tempted to try for this exam. This, coupled with very low exam fee of Rs. 50/= (Female/SC/ST/PH candidates do not have to pay any fee at all) and easy availability of application forms explains why there is a mad rush of applicants for Civil Services (Prelims). But 50% of them never appear in the exam – thus self-eliminating themselves!
Following data shows the number of candidates who APPLIES for Civil Services (Prelims) vs. the number of candidates who APPEARS in the exam:
CS-Prelims stage Screening: The main hurdle
Yes, this happens to be the most crucial stage (going by the percentage of who qualifies) – only 1 out of each 20 who appears in Civil Services (Prelims) exam, qualifies for the CS-Mains.
In deriving the Prelims qualifying percentage, since “The Annual reports of UPSC” did not contain the number of candidates who qualified in Prelims, I have assumed that it will be same as the number of candidates who applied for Mains (since almost no one would get away from the lure of clearing the Prelims but yet not attempting for Mains!).
You can find below the number of candidates who APPEARED in Civil Services (Prelims) and the number of candidates who APPLIED for Civil Services (Mains). The Prelims stage success rate is about 5%:
CS-Mains stage Screening: Things are getting easier!
Yes, the things gets easier from CS-Mains onwards – as said, 1 out of each 5 who appears in Civil Services (Mains) exam, qualifies for Interview. In other words, the counting ends in the finger of your palm!
You can find below the number of candidates who APPEARED in Civil Services (Mains) and the number of candidates who APPEARED in Civil Services Interview. The Mains stage success rate is about 20%:
CS-Interview stage Screening: You are almost there!
You now have double the chances of becoming a Civil Servant of Govt. of India – while only 1 out of every 5 qualifies in Civil Services (Mains) exam, 2 out of every 5 who appears in Civil Services Interview are selected finally.
You can find below the number of candidates who APPEARED in Civil Services (Interview) and the number of posts for which the exam was held. The Interview stage success rate is about 40%:
So if you are thinking seriously to crack the Civil Services exam, above statistics shows you that at first you have to break the mindblock that Civil Services exam is beyond your reach – you should APPEAR in Prelims, if you have applied for it. After appearing in Prelims, if you have done well, things only gets easier in each step.
Best wishes for the future examinees of Civil Services exam. This blog publishes info on UPSC Civil Services exam from time to time. So keep checking this blog again. I am leaving you with the following table, which gives you a birds-eye view of all the statistics on number of candidates applied/appeared in Civil Services exam & Interview.